Monday, May 20, 2019

Build Your Stack for the Summer Sizzle

As we all fondly recall, summer vacation is the ultimate!  Staying up late into the night, basking in the golden sun, slurping up frothy ice cream concoctions, and yes - hopefully reading a good book or two or three...or three in one day.  And why not?  It's summer, after all.

Here is my 2019 sizzling summer read picks for tweens and teens.  The list includes some classics and some contemporary, depending on personal choice.  Either way, tweens/teens will have a blast getting their read on!!!

Kimberly's 2019 Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens

1) The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver

2) Lord of the Flies - William Golding

3) The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

4) Shout - Laurie Halse Anderson

5) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

6) New Kid - Jerry Craft

7) On the Come Up - Angie Thomas

8) The Best of Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl

9) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

10) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

11) Funny in Farsi - Firoozeh Dumas

12) Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world.

Why should we devote an entire month to honor words written in verse?  Because poetry is the language of the soul.  When life drowns us with its dark moments, poetry throws us a raft – a verbal sanctuary of healing and beauty.

So I urge you to release your inner poet and succumb to the sensory language, rhythm, flavor, call and response of poetry.  Feel the human spirit and universality of life's shared stories in a stanza.  Read or write a poem this month.  Restore your spirit.  Restore your soul.

Ten Favorite Poems

  1. “Sick” – Shel Silverstein
  2. “Phenomenal Woman” – Maya Angelou
  3. “Annabel Lee” – Edgar Allan Poe
  4. “Oranges” – Gary Soto
  5. “The Road Not Taken” – Robert Frost
  6. Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare
  7. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” – Robert Herrick
  8. “The Kiss” – Sara Teasdale
  9. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” – Dylan Thomas 
  10. Fragment 31 – Sappho

April Challenge:  Write a Cinquain

A cinquain is five line poem that follows this lyrical pattern:

1) a word for the title
2) two adjectives
3) three verbs
4) a phrase
5) the title again – or synonym


Dark or milk
Smooth, silky, sweet
Best thing ever

Large, mysterious
Watching, rolling, blinking
Tell more than words

Short, sweet
Five, simple steps
Maybe not so easy…

Teaching poetry?
Kick start your poetry unit with my Poetry Jumbo Bundle for everything you need!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Drop Everything and Read at Cheekwood!

Nothing says springtime in Nashville like Cheekwood!  Join me April 6th to celebrate Drop Everything and Read Day among the tulips, daffodils, and hydrangeas with a storytime trail, scavenger hunt, book drives, and Cheekwood’s very own mobile library!

Drop Everything and Read
Schedule of Events

Spring Essentials for Growing Healthy Roses Workshop in partnership with The Nashville Rose Society | 9 am – 11 am
Family Activity | 10 am-2 pm
Storytime Trail | 10 am-1:30 pm
Cheekwood Mobile Library | 10 am – 2 pm
Parnassus Bookmobile | 10 am – 2 pm
Book Drive
Classical Flute and Guitar with Andy Robinson and Jonah Kraut | 11 am-2 pm
Piano Player | 11 am-2 pm
Beer Garden | 11 am-4 pm
The Bluegrass Drifters 11 am-2 pm
“Walk with a Gardener” led by Cheekwood garden staff | 10 am and 1 pm
Docent-led House and History tour | 10 am, 12 pm, and 2pm
Docent-led Garden tour | 11 am and 3 pm

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Show Your Love for Literacy This Valentine's Day - Start a YA Book Club

Okay, perhaps your New Year's resolution of losing weight, breaking that smartphone addiction, or learning a new language has already fallen by the wayside.  Not to worry.

This Valentine's Day, why not resolve to show your love of books by starting a YA book club at your local library, school, or other community venue.  Sound daunting?  Not sure how to lead the discussion?  Your YA lit lovers will take over the book talk in no time...all you have to do is initiate it with (25) engaging questions below that can be applied to any book or novel:

1) What is the title?
2) Who is the author?
3) Who is the main character or protagonist?
4) Describe their physical traits.
5) Describe their personality traits.
6) Describe the protagonist using three adjectives.
7) What is the major conflict (problem) the protagonist is facing?
8) How do they resolve their conflict?
9) What is the setting (time and place)?
10)  What is the genre?
11)  What words would you use to describe the book?
12)  What is a new word you learned?  Use it in a sentence.
13)  Give a general plot summary.
14)  Give the main character some advice on a problem they are facing.
15)  Would you want the main character as a best friend?  Why or why not?
16)  Change the title of the book to something different.
17)  What confused you about the book?
18)  What is the overall theme or author’s message?
19)  How did the main character change?
20)  What question would you ask the author if you could?
21)  Would you recommend this book to a friend?  Why or why not?
22)  Who would you cast in a movie based on the book?
23)  What will you always remember about the book?
24)  Do you like the cover art?  Why or why not?
25)  What is your favorite quotation from the book?

There are many benefits to leading a book club for young adults!  Besides creating literary luminaries and a love of reading, you will help tweens and teens voice opinions, encourage literary analysis, make predictions, solve problems, and expose them to new authors and genres.  Be a literary role model, and start a Young Adult Book Club today!

For more Book Club ideas and activities, check out my Book Club Bundle:

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Windows and Mirrors: Portals for Universal Literacy

            ‘Tis the season of giving so I challenge everyone to adopt a classroom and help a teacher “Build Your Stack” chock full of window and mirror books.  #BuildYourStack is the National Council Teachers of English literacy initiative that focuses on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries.  Window and mirror books is my own add-on for giving kids access to books that reflect themselves and the world around them - in a time when this call to action is needed most. 
             So what is so formative about window and mirror books?  

The simple fact is we live in a world that is multicultural, plural, and diverse.  It’s time our libraries, classrooms, and homes reflected this important truth. Literature is a socializing agent that literally tells children what the world values through the messages it sends. To wit, every child must have access to MIRROR BOOKS first to confirm and celebrate their reality.  And every child must have access to WINDOW BOOKS to expand their worldview andteach them to be global citizens.

To understand the impact of what this really means, we must understand the power of literature by looking at it through a different lens and avoiding the danger of the single story.  Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks of the danger of the single story in her beautifully powerful 2009 TED talk.  She warns, “The single story creates stereotypes and problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.  They make one story become the only story.”  

Chimamanda, who grew up in eastern Nigeria, explains to audiences how she learned to read and write at an early age modeling her stories solely after window books.  As a young girl, Chimamanda had no access to mirror books that reflected her reality and this affected her sense of how the world worked.  Now that we know the difference, we must do better…but teachers and librarians need our help!   

This holiday season help a teacher build their stack of window and mirror books that ensure literacy engagement and make reading a joyful and purposeful activity. Let’s empower children with the opportunity to discover the varied richness of our world through the transformative power of literature, one story at a time.  …Because the right book in the right hands can transform a life - and that is the true spirit of Joy, Love, and Peace.   

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Introducing PTA Skills Bundles

I have easily taught thousands of ELA lessons.  As in the case of every teacher, some were textbook home runs and some were complete flops!  In spite of what I perceived to be careful planning, the latter was often a result of a weak or missing component in the lesson.

After reviewing the research, observing hundreds of classes, and reflecting on my own teaching practices, I've created a product called the PTA Skills Bundle that I hope will ensure efficiency and proficiency in the classroom on twenty-two literacy skills most often seen on standardized tests:

  • Analogies
  • Author's Purpose
  • Cause and Effect
  • Characterization
  • Context Clues
  • Fact and Opinion
  • Figurative Language
  • Fragments and Run Ons
  • Genre
  • Inferences
  • Irony
  • Main Idea
  • Mood and Tone
  • Organizational Writing Patterns
  • Parts of Speech
  • Point of View
  • Research and Reliability
  • Sentence Types
  • Story Elements
  • Subject Verb Agreement
  • Titles of Works
  • Transitional Words and Phrases

Specifically, the PTA Skills Bundle includes three research-based, best practice products (PowerPoint, Task Cards, and Assessment) that allow for instruction, practice, and progress monitoring - the three most important components of instruction.

Here’s how it works:
1) You TEACH the skill with an easy-to-understand, comprehensive instructional PowerPoint.
2) Students PRACTICE the skill as they review the content with high yield Task Cards that generate active engagement.
3) You ASSESS the skill with a Common Core-aligned assessment that will let you know in no time who is advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic.

10 Benefits of the PTA Skills Bundle:

➢PTA Bundles are instructional time-friendly!
➢PTA Bundles are perfect for standout evaluations. You’ll shine as your evaluator commends your use of materials, creativity, content, and assessment.
➢PTA Bundles are minimal prep work…it’s all there!
➢PTA Bundles include Common Core-aligned assessments will let you know in no time who is advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic in this important ELA skill.
➢PTA Bundles are time savers…they last for years!
➢PTA Bundles include research-based high yield strategies that keep students actively engaged.
➢PTA Bundles are super sub friendly…Keep them learning even when you’re not there!
➢PTA Bundles have built in standardized test prep, so no need to stress come spring!
➢PTA Bundles make collaboration easy. Share the wealth of your knowledge and resources with your colleagues the easy way.
➢PTA Bundles are Easy for you – Engaging for them!!

Add PTA Skills Bundles to your teaching library today!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ten Prompts for NaNoWriMo

Okay, guys!  It's officially NaNoWriMo and the month is getting away from us!  Next week is Thanksgiving and before you know it...

You know where I'm going with this.  If you are finding yourself lacking motivation to get started, here are ten prompts to help pen the first chapter for that award-winning, best-seller:

Ten Prompts for NaNoWriMo

1) A C.E.O. gives a keynote address at a convention when overtaken by a panic attack.

2) A passenger discovers an unattended carryon when flying over the ocean.

3) A book club hostess receives a threatening anonymous note at her own home.

4) A disgruntled claustrophobe finds himself locked in an elevator at work overnight.

5) A weary taxi driver picks up a sinister stranger contemplating suicide who wants to drive around town first.

6) A couple celebrates their anniversary at a cozy restaurant when a mysterious bouquet of flowers is brought to the table.

7) A daughter cleans out her parents’ attic and discovers an urn of ashes.

8) A valedictorian gets arrested for shoplifting right before graduation.

9) An unappreciated secretary calls in sick and goes shopping where she runs into her boss’s wife with another man.

10)  A first-day-on-the-job nanny takes the children to the park where she loses the master key only to have a burglar find it.

Remember, the first rule to writing that novel is No Excuses!  I have to remind myself of that everyday.  NaNoWriMo is a great time to get started, so write on!